Friday, November 5, 2010

DTN News: India TODAY November 5, 2010 - IAF To Upgrade Operational Capabilities In Northeast

Defense News: DTN News: India TODAY November 5, 2010 - IAF To Upgrade Operational Capabilities In Northeast
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources by Ananya Dutta - The Hindu
(NSI News Source Info) KALAIKUNDA, India - November 5, 2010: The Indian Air Force (IAF) was going for a “composite upgradation” of its capabilities in the northeast, following which similar steps would be taken in the north, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik said here on Tuesday.

“We are going for a composite upgradation of capabilities in the northeast. It should have been done a long time ago,” he said adding that infrastructure would be upgraded in about six major air fields.

The upgradation was a part of the Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI) project and included airfields in Bagdogra, Panagarh, Tezpur, Chabua, Saluwa and Guwahati. It also included improvement to eight advanced landing grounds in the region.

“After the northeast, we will concentrate in the north, so that both can take off at the same time,” he said adding that significant progress was made on ground and the project was being overseen by an empowered committee headed by the Vice-Chief of the IAF, Air Marshal P K Barbora.

On the development of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), he said: “The LCA has taken a long way to come to the stage where it is now. By the middle of the next year LCA Mark-I will be inducted into the operationalised squadrons.”

Air Chief Marshal Naik was speaking to journalists during the India-U.K. joint air exercise, ‘Indradhanush,' that had been going on since October 18. Key attractions of the exercise are the Eurofighter-Typhoons, one of the six planes that have been shortlisted by the IAF for the Medium Multi-Role Combat (MMRC) aircraft deal earlier this year.

On the shortage of pilots, he said the IAF needed about 300 to 400 pilots, but more could not be taken in overnight.

“We have increased our intake capacity. By the time the equipment [new aircraft under the MMRC deal] arrive in three or four years, we will be ready to man them,” he said.

He said 50 Hawk aircraft were being procured from the U.K. that would be used for training of fighter pilots, a part of future co-operation between the two countries.

The next joint air exercise with the Royal Air Force (RAF) would probably be held in the U.K. after two years, he added.

Asked about the IAF's role in anti-Maoist operations, Air Chief Marshal Naik said four IAF helicopters had been engaged in the operations for the last six months in Dantewara and Jagdalpur areas.

In the third edition of the joint exercise with the RAF, the Air Force Chief himself flew in the newly acquired Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), the on-air radar system that was used in an exercise for the first time in India. His U.K. counterpart, Air Vice-Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, flew in a Su30 during the day.

“It was a great experience. As a pilot, I could see another way of operating an aircraft and capabilities,” Sir Dalton said.

*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:
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